University President Stephen Standifird announced in an email on Jan. 24 that the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) has awarded Bradley an Independent Colleges Capital Investment Grant of more than $14.8 million.
The grant will finance two projects on campus: a renovation of Olin Hall science laboratories and equipment and a renovation of Williams Dining Hall.
The Olin project will upgrade the ventilation and fume hood control systems, boost safety for students and faculty and increase energy efficiency.
Standifird says the decision to upgrade the building’s facilities was influenced by frequent student utilization of the laboratories and equipment.
“What we were really looking at is, ‘What are the things that are responding well to the needs and desires of our current students?’” Standifird said. “If you look at our science facilities, science ends up being such a core part of who we are. We have about 2,500 students every year going to those labs.”
Craig Cady, an associate professor in the Biology Department, explained how these renovations can benefit his research.
“It will help maintain the quality of the air,” Cady said. “We grow stem cells in my laboratory and a lot of other different types of cells and they are prone to contamination. So, the ventilation system is quite old … it’s not doing the job as well as it should, so an upgrade will help tremendously in maintaining that quality.”
Construction in Olin Hall is expected to begin this summer.
For the Williams project, the new dining facility will include the current kitchen and dining areas, Center Court Bistro and an addition to the building, according to Libby Derry, Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations. The increased dining space will offer more seating and food options and full ADA accessibility.
Derry added that the redesign and expansion of the dining facility will maximize efficiency and diversity of serving areas and include improved waste and recycling streams.
“We know that one of the things that students have given us feedback on is that they would like to see an upgrade to not just our dining facilities, but [also] how they’re delivered and some of the opportunities,” Standifird said. “This new facility will give us an opportunity to create some new stations, some allergy-specific stations and some additional space.”
Sophomore computer science major Curtis Johnson says allergen-specific stations can make a big difference for some students.
“I know some people who have peanut allergies or are allergic to certain [foods],” Johnson said. “They will know where to go to get food that won’t be any danger to them. I feel like that’s a great addition to have.”
The Williams Dining Hall project is expected to begin in the summer of 2025.
Bradley applied for a capital project grant after central Illinois state legislators advocated for private college construction projects to be included in the legislation.
“A specific shoutout [goes] to [State Representative] Ryan Spain, State Representative Gordon-Booth and Senator Koehler,” Standifird said. “Without their feedback and input, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Standifird emphasized the importance of using grants to address student concerns and continue to make changes in the future.
“We are constantly looking for opportunities to improve the campus and we know that there are a number of ways to do so,” Standifird said.